For many hopeful candidates, a successful job search means passing an interview. This is an all-important step in the recruitment process where you will not only need to present yourself professionally and answer questions about your CV but where the interviewer will be assessing your suitability from a personality and culture-fit perspective.
Assuming that you have the required skills for the position you will be scheduled a time to meet with HR or the hiring manager to formally discuss the job requirements. This can lead to anxiety in many candidates as important interviews can contain an element of the unknown, not to mention that it might not just be one person interviewing you. Panel interviews are common, so your meeting may include 3 or 4 managers or department heads from different areas of the company.
When it comes to attending your important interview you will want to be fully prepared, this does a couple of things.
- It helps you to appear accomplished and professional even if you are a bag of nerves
- Preparation shines through - the interviewer will be able to tell you have done your homework.
Getting past interview nerves
Overcoming nerves can be an important factor, even though it is common, being on edge at an interview doesn’t usually help things along. Stuttering, stammering, or forgetting the answers to simple questions can all be a by-product of nerves. So how do you overcome your fears?
Preparation. Pure and simple.
The more you rehearse answers to possible questions and the more you research the company, the more armed with the information you will be. This can help with maintaining confidence, even if tricky questions are asked.
Some other steps to remember may seem simple but they will be considered against your overall interview performance. In fact, there are multiple things you can do to help the process along that don’t involve answering questions. For instance - be on time! This is a super easy thing to achieve for an important interview. Make sure you leave with more than enough time to get to the location and arrive early!
Whether you know it or not, arriving late to your appointment will be a mark against you 99% of the time. So plan in advance.
Here are some other things you can do to prepare for an important interview:
- Take a CV
- Dress appropriately
- Be on time
- Do you research
- Ask intelligent questions
- Be careful of salary negotiations
- Follow up after the interview
Question preparation and follow up
Interview preparation will involve making sure you have appropriate answers to the interviewer’s questions. It is useful to keep in mind that the interviewer has a problem, (a gap in the workforce) and they need to solve it (by assessing if YOU are the person for the job). In other words, they don’t really care that you’re keen or willing to learn, they simply want to know that you can fix their problem.
Make sure you have identified the common questions and have your answers prepared. Focus on skills, talents, and abilities, and if you have achievements you can back up with proof or data then that will be beneficial. Most first interviews don’t get into salary negotiations, they typically come later, but if you are pushed for an answer try and provide a range rather than a definite number. Again, your research will help you here as you should be able to find out what the average salary is for the position in your area.
When it comes to the end of the meeting your interviewer will ask if you have any questions to ask. This is where you can stand out as a candidate. Avoid the typical questions and go for something that takes a bit more consideration to answer. Ask thought-provoking things like, “What percentage would you say your turnover was at company-wide for the past 2 years?.” or “Now we have spoken, what challenges would you imagine would be the greatest for me in this role?” At the very least you will make an impression and the interviewer will remember you.
Whether you think you interviewed well or not, always send a professional follow up email to express your gratitude for the meeting. It adds a professional touch and who knows, it may encourage your interviewer to keep you in mind for future opportunities.
The bottom line is that the more preparation and research you do for an interview, the less nervous you will be. If it is an extremely important interview then really invest some time in finding out about the company and other people that have worked there. The time spent preparing will be time well spent.